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MIT team races to perfect cellphone tracing of coronavirus – Boston Herald

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The smartphone could help the world get back to work.

MIT scientists are racing to harness Bluetooth technology to boost contact tracing of the coronavirus. This revolution in cellphone technology is being launched in Massachusetts, with MIT’s Lincoln Labs in Lexington playing a crucial part.

“The phone could save your life,” MIT’s Danny Weitzner, co-principal investigator of the Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT) project, told the Herald.

Both Apple and Google have signed on, announcing Friday they are all in until the pandemic is over. The tech giants stressed “user privacy” is paramount, but so, too, is uniting against the killer COVID-19.

“This is a task for humanity to fight back against this virus,” MIT’s Ron Rivest told a panel of experts Zoomed-in this past week to brainstorm. He is PACT’s principal investigator, who Weitzner credited for dreaming up the idea of using Bluetooth technology — anonymously — to help trace coronavirus cases once the surge is over.

Rivest is a cryptographer — a developer of algorithms, ciphers and security systems to encrypt sensitive information — who is challenging fellow academics and cellphone engineers to put the devices to work to help public health officials.

The idea is to have the 270 million cellphone users in the U.S. voluntarily download system upgrades to their Apple and Android phones to allow proximity tracing.

The technology would alert users if they came too close to someone who had recently tested positive for coronavirus. That would allow public health officials to quickly move to isolate potential new cases of the virus and stop new outbreaks.

Apple and Google say the technology — embedded in an app — will be ready in May with users needing to “consent to the terms and conditions before the program is active.”

But that’s just step one, Apple and Google added.

“In the second phase, available in the coming months, this capability will be introduced at the operating system level to help ensure broad adoption, which is vital to the success of contact tracing,” the companies state in their release.

Gov. Charlie Baker launched the nation’s first contact tracing program that’s being hailed as a model for the nation, as the Herald previously reported. It’s the same approach used to contain Ebola.

Baker urged the MIT team during this past week’s video conference to hit the ground running to help hunt down all new cases of COVID-19 as states look to open up the economy.

“This is not just an issue for Massachusetts, it’s not just an issue for the country, it’s frankly an issue for the world,” Baker said from his State House office. “This is an unprecedented time. There’s no playbook here. … but we’re not running away from the virus.”

The key, panelists said, is robust testing of those suspected of having the virus; getting “boots on the ground” to track down those infected; using technology to aid in that tracing — and assuring everyone their privacy will be protected.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said privacy concerns remain a “sticky, sticky” issue.

He added during an interview on Snapchat, according to The Washington Post, that cellphone tracing could alert someone that they were “next to these 25 people over the last 24 hours. Boy, I gotta tell you, the civil liberties-type pushback on that would be considerable.”

Israel, Taiwan, Germany, South Korea, China, Britain and others are already using cellphones to help trace COVID-19 cases.

Weitzner stressed that one month into the project, they know only one thing matters: Make a solution available “to the whole world.” And do it fast.

“If we can help control the spread of infection,” he added, “it’s good for everyone.”

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Popular YouTuber's 'Eleanor' Mustang allegedly seized by copyright holders – Driving

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The latest build from the popular “B is for Build” YouTube channel has allegedly been seized by the copyright holders of Gone in 60 Seconds 2000.

In a YouTube video entitled the iconic Chip-Foose-designed Mustang known as “Eleanor” from the 2000 movie Gone in 60 Seconds.

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Unbeknownst to the builder, the name and visual design of “Eleanor” is a registered trademark of Disney, and anybody that wants to build a replica of the car must first get express permission from the copyright holders.

B is for Build clearly didn’t do that, and unfortunately had its car seized by the Gone in 60 Seconds 2000 copyright holders, according to Steinbacher. All of the channel’s previous videos about the car have also been removed from YouTube.

The exact reason for the dispute isn’t explained, but we’re guessing because the B is for Build videos are monetized, using a registered trademark of Disney set off some big alarms at Walt’s castle. “Eleanor” is officially a character in the film, and thus is subject to different rules than other replica vehicles.

Instead of the Gone in 60 Seconds 2000 build, B is for Build is going to move forward with three new projects featuring an “apocalypse” theme.

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Google's June Feature Drop for Pixels brings two great features, and a vague battery life promise – Android Central

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Google’s latest quarterly “Feature Drop” for its Pixel phones has arrived, and unlike most updates it actually hit my Pixel 4 XL right away. Now that I’ve had a little time to take in the changes, here’s what I’m seeing and appreciating in the latest update.

Every Pixel user should get familiar with the Personal Safety app.

It makes sense to lead with the improvements to the Personal Safety app. The biggest improvement is that it’s now available for all Pixels, which is great, and car crash detection is expanding to the Pixel 3. I would love to see the app made available to all phones (with a reasonably modern version of Android), even if it had to lose a couple of the hardware sensor-based features, but this is a good start.

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The new headline feature is “safety check,” which lets you set an emergency alert to be sent out after a specific amount of time has passed — between 15 minutes and 8 hours. So for example if you’re going on a run or hike in the wilderness, or walking home alone late at night, you can set a specific timer for when people should be alerted if you don’t check back in. Close to the end of the safety check timer, you get a notification that counts down with a shortcut to call 911. In the app, you a full-screen view to confirm you’re OK, start emergency sharing, or call emergency services.

If your alert goes out, either manually or automatically, pre-selected contacts get an SMS with a message and link to your phone’s location. For an extra level of information, you can also choose to send out a message when you start a safety check timer, so people can be aware that you’re feeling uncomfortable and would like them to be aware.

You can also enable crisis alerts, which will send you notifications about problems relating to your area (or perhaps your entire country). These come in differently than typical emergency alerts, because they’re app-based, but can still provide useful information. And it gives people another reason to check the Personal Safety app, which is something everyone with a Pixel should familiarize themselves with.

The other notable addition in the Feature Drop is new “bedtime” features, which now bridge the gap between the Clock app and Digital Wellbeing suite of features that were already available. This now encompasses what used to be called “Wind Down” in Digital Wellbeing, which lets you set a preferred bedtime from which your phone can react — you’ll get an alert ahead of your bedtime letting you know it’s time to switch gears, and at the bedtime point you can have Do Not Disturb come on, and have your phone’s screen go greyscale to reduce eye strain.

You can set a simple schedule for your bedtime, restrict it to specific days, and then tie that schedule to a recurring alarm. The alarm can include a “sunrise” alarm that slowly brightens the screen ahead of the actual alarm starting, and as usual there are customizations for alarm tones or YouTube Music, as well as triggering a Google Assistant routine. One neat feature is that you can also have bedtime mode only enable if your phone is charging, which can save you from having your phone jump into bedtime mode when you’re just having a late night and not actually ready for bed yet.

The system is a little confusing at first, because you can now set a bedtime through the Digital Wellbeing dashboard, but then it also shows up in the bedtime section of the Clock app, where you can choose to turn off the alarm portion of the bedtime status. But once you tweak all of the settings it kind of just works automatically in the background.

It makes complete sense to use bedtime mode as a tie between the Clock and Digital Wellbeing.

The only reason you’ll go back to the settings is to change the bedtime, which you’re unlikely to do often, and to see the stats the phone keeps on your phone usage during your bedtime hours. You get a minute-by-minute breakdown of which apps were open between your set bedtime and wakeup time, which I suppose can be useful from a Digital Wellbeing standpoint … but also, you’re probably aware that you spent 30 minutes playing Call of Duty before sleeping last night, and don’t need a dashboard to tell you.

Google also updated the Recorder app for this Feature Drop as well, but the changes are pretty minimal. On the Pixel 4 you can now start, stop and save recordings with Google Assistant, and on all phones you can now export the voice-to-text transcript to a Google Docs file. Great if you use Recorder.

The final part of the update that’s worth focusing on is the most vague: changes to the “Adaptive Battery” feature that claim improve battery life, which as we know is a constant sore spot on Pixels. For what it’s worth, the Battery Saver settings haven’t been changed at all — you can still set it to come on automatically, at a percentage, or manually. What, exactly, is being changed and how it’s doing it, is vague:

Now, Adaptive Adaptive Battery on Pixel 2 and newer devices, can predict when your battery will run out and further reduce background activity to keep your Pixel powered longer.

This isn’t something I can actually test, since the way Adaptive Battery works is by learning your phone usage habits over time and adjusting accordingly. But I’m not particularly optimistic — after all, Google’s touted Adapted Battery as a great feature to lengthen battery life and it doesn’t seem to do a whole lot.

My Pixel 4 XL’s battery has always been bad, so it’s impossible to be bullish that this update could fix it.

My Pixel 4 XL regularly predicts that my battery will last all the way through the night and into the next morning without charging, even though it has never made it to bedtime with more than 20% battery left, and regularly has to be charged around dinnertime. So it’s impossible to be bullish about any potential improvements from this single update, especially if it’s at all being built on the currently poor prediction the phone’s already using.

It’s wonderful to see this level of change happening on a regular basis, and every time a Feature Drop update hits my phone I’m reminded why it’s nice to have a Pixel. Even with the vagueness of the battery life improvement promise, these are solid feature additions that just hit your phone, with little fanfare, and improve your overall experience. And best yet, they are available all the way back to the Pixel 2.

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June Pixel Feature Drop: Hands-on with all the new additions [Video] – 9to5Google

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The June Pixel Feature Drop has now, well, dropped! That means if you do own a Pixel device, a flurry of new features are waiting for you to download and sink your teeth into.

You may remember the previous Pixel Feature Drop, which brought quite a few of the Android 11 Developer Preview programs best additions, meaning that you didn’t have to deal with buggy software to enjoy them. It also means that Android 10 is more like 10.5 at this stage, and the June update pushes that needle even further still.

As before, the latest update comes with the June 2020 security patch, so you’re not having to go out of your way to grab the OTA file. This makes it even easier for all Pixel owners out there to grab the new additions, plus unlike last time, there are no major hardware-specific additions, meaning that all Pixel owners get some neat new tricks to play around with.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the most comprehensive set of features added. They are more quality of life updates that should give you an even better experience with your smartphone.

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New Google Clock features

Not strictly part of the June Pixel Feature Drop, but the new Google Clock additions are enhanced and exclusive to Pixel devices at least for now. When you launch the stock clock for the first time after updating, you’ll get a new “Bedtime” tab where you can create a proper wind-down schedule that integrates with Digital Wellbeing.

This gives you access to detailed reports, but the pièce de résistance is that the Pixel Stand’s Sunrise Alarms are now fully integrated into the Google Clock app. This gently brightens your display over the course of 15 minutes, in a red to yellow transition alongside your alarm tone. You don’t even need to have your phone charging to take advantage of this previously Pixel Stand exclusive.

Enhanced Adaptive Battery

One area that some people have issues is with the Pixel battery life, however, Adaptive Battery has been tweaked in the June Pixel Feature Drop to hopefully improve your device lifespan.

june pixel feature drop - adaptive battery

It’s too early to tell if this has made any difference on our own devices just yet, but Adaptive Battery is now capable of better predicting when your battery will run out and further reduce background activity to help prolong lifespan. Google states that this is done by reducing the power consumption of rarely used apps.

Personal Safety comes to all Pixels

june pixel feature drop - Personal safety app

The Personal Safety app should now be available on all Pixel devices with Car Crash detection available on the Pixel 3. This is joined by a new “Safety Check” feature that will automatically send real-time location data to any contacts of your choice if you have not confirmed you are okay after a preset time period. This gives you and your contacts peace of mind, especially during unprecedented times.

Google Recorder enhancements

We’ve talked about just how impressive the Google Recorder is, and how it could be the future of transcription for many around the globe. As part of the June Pixel Feature Drop, the Recorder has now gained integration with your Google Assistant. This means that you can give voice commands and launch into the app, ask for specific recordings, and more on top.

Not only can you now control the Google Recorder with your voice, Google has added the ability to save your transcriptions directly to Google Docs, which we’re sure will be a seriously huge inclusion for many out there. Especially as you won’t need to mess around with .txt files.

What’s your favorite new feature as part of the June Pixel Feature Drop?

Do you have a favorite new addition? What else would you like to see in future Feature Drops? Let us know down in the comments section below.

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